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Review of THE SIMPSONS: SEASON 19 (DVD)

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Grade: A-
Entire family: No
2007-08, 440 min. (20 episodes), Color
Animation
Not rated (would be PG for some drinking, smoking, and adult situations)
20th Century Fox
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features: B
Includes: 4 discs, booklet
Intro sample
Amazon Link

It’s almost unfathomable to think that a TV series that first aired in 1989 would still be on the air, but The Simpsons keeps chugging happily along and shows no signs of slowing down. With the 31st season in progress, it’s the longest running TV sitcom and also the longest running scripted primetime TV show.

Cartoonist Matt Groening struck gold with this series about a nuclear power plant worker who’s so dumb you’d swear there’s a leak at the plant. Then again, there might be something to that. In Springfield, where nuclear power is the big employer in town, the stream has multi-headed fish and everyone and everything in town is just a little strange—whether it’s hyper-Christian Ned Flanders, dumb-as-a-baton Chief Wiggum, Marge Simpson’s blue hair, or the Simpsons’ deep yellow pallor that tip you off.

Homer Simpson (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) is part Archie Bunker, part Al Bundy, and part Rain Man, and his clueless but try-anything demeanor gets him into all sorts of escapades, sometimes with his über-delinquent son Bart (Nancy Cartwright). Marge (Julie Kavner) is Homer’s long-suffering wife, while daughter Lisa (Yeardley Smith) somehow managed to beat the family’s gene pool to be born brainy and ambitious. Cartoon families are fun because no one ever ages, and the baby Maggie keeps sucking on her pacifier year after year. Bartender Moe (Hank Azaria) also never ages, nor does Flanders (Harry Shearer), Wiggum (Azaria), Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu (Azaria), Principal Skinner (Shearer), bully Nelson Muntz (Cartwright), teacher Edna Krabappel (Marcia Wallace), or Bart’s friend Milhouse (Pamela Hayden).

The animated show’s success can be attributed to three things: engaging characters, sharp writing, and a steady diet of topical humor and pop culture allusions that keep the writing (and the writers) fresh. In fact, The Simpsons itself is such a cultural phenomenon that celebrities have eagerly been a part of various episodes. This season falls into what many consider the Simpsons’ golden era before the style of animation changed. And the titles alone tell you how much fun the writers had with pop culture this season. More

Review of MICKEY AND THE ROADSTER RACERS: START YOUR ENGINES (DVD)

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Grade: B-/C+
Entire family: No (pre-school only)
2017, 72 min. (7 cartoons), Color
TV Animation
Rated TV-Y (for young viewers)
Disney
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
“Goof Luck Charm” clip
Amazon link

Mickey and the Roadster Racers: Start Your Engines includes seven episodes from the CGI-animated Disney Junior TV series that replaced Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in January 2017. Parents who watch this new show with their toddlers will probably lament that it seems less educational than Clubhouse—at least on the surface. Yes, there are all sorts of primary colors and simple syntaxes that tiny ones can pick up, but the show panders to children’s shrinking attention spans by featuring two 11-minute episodes every half-hour series instead of one 22-minute story that tried for more interactivity.

Every half-hour show features one “Roadsters” cartoon featuring a race, mostly, and one “Happy Helpers” cartoon, where Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Cuckoo-Loca (a new character) do various things to help the residents of Hot Dog Hills.

The Roadster Racers cartoons are all plot-driven action that really demand very little from little viewers except that they cheer for their favorite drivers and their distinct vehicles: Mickey and his Hot Rod, Minnie and Pink Thunder (shaped like a hair bow), Goofy and his Turbo Tubster (a modern-day jalopy), Donald and his Cabin Cruiser, and Daisy and her vehicle “Snapdragon.”

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